Friday, July 27, 2012

A Few Things I’ve Learned Along the Way:

It all started sometime in 2005-2006 with a 9 mile run, in an old pair of New Balance, wearing an old college sweatshirt and carrying a yellow Sony Walkman.  My first real, outdoor run.  Up until then I had been running on the treadmill, working my way up from 5 minutes of running to well over an hour.  I don’t remember much about that first run, other than it was the most fun I’d had in a long time, and I couldn’t wait for more.  Many marathons and triathlons later, its 2012 and aside from proper shoes, gear, and form technique, there are few things I’ve learned along the way.

1)      Pay attention to imbalances.  Yes, there will be days when you are sore, or tired.  But if something is really nagging at you, continually over time, seek advice.  Its possible to train for months or even years with little nagging sore spots.  However, the likelihood that catching up to you someday is very real.  Notice your tendencies.  Do you get tight calves or a tight Achilles after speedwork, long runs, or races?  Ice, stretch, foam roll and strengthen now, consistently, to avoid it turning into something bigger, like plantar fasciitis.  Some knee pain here and there?  Roll you IT band and strengthen your quads now to avoid possible problems (such as torn meniscus or Runner’s Knee) later on.  Log everything.  Be diligent about proper form.  Work with your closely with your coach, who can assign specific stretching and strengthening exercises to get over any little aches and pains now and you will avoid heartache later on. 

2)       Training is not the time to “diet.”  Food is fuel, and proper nutrition is key to success.  If weight loss is a goal, talk to your coach, log your food intake and all your workouts.  As a result of training, you will likely gain muscle and lose fat…you are exercising and getting stronger every day.  Your body will become lean and strong as a result of proper training and nutrition.  Skipping meals, cutting back severely on calories, or relying on caffeine and/or quick sugar as an energy source is detrimental to your goals.  Your body is a fantastic machine.  Treat it with respect, fuel it properly, and you will see amazing results in both body and mind.

3)      You will gain muscle.  Healthy, strong bodies are a result of excellent nutrition and training.  Your body works hard to give you what you ask.  Enjoy the benefits and ignore the fads.  So what if your calves or quads don’t fit into skinny jeans?  Strong is beautiful.

4)      Strength train.  It doesn’t have to be every day, and it doesn’t have to be for hours on end.  Save the long endurance for biking, swimming, and running.  Your coach will assign appropriate exercises, and most sessions last under 60 minutes.  Strong muscles pay dividends on race day! 

5)      To women athletes:   5 minutes of proper Kegels daily.  Do it now, before its too late.  Muscles lost elasticity and strength if not used.   Your core routine should also focus on all the muscles of the abdominal region.  The Transversus  Abdominis (TA)  is often overlooked and can weaken with pregnancy.  Be sure to add TA exercises to your core routine.

6)      Log your workouts.  Your coach needs to know not just the numbers, but also how you are feeling on each particular day.  Add life events, etc.  Looking back on old logs can reveal patterns, which are both useful to you as an athlete and invaluable to your coach.

Be certain of yourself.   Share your passion of the sport with others.  Be Healthy, Train Smart, Have Fun.

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